Saturday, February 28, 2009

Question from Anne's Fan - Timing on swordsman request for Anne's execution

How long would it have taken for Anne's request for a swordsman, to reach Calais and for that swordsman to return to England and behead Anne?

Could this have all been put in motion before Anne's trial and subsequent guilty verdict?

Question from Anne's Fan - Lodgings before Anne's execution

Do we know where Anne stayed before her execution? Was it "The Queen's House" or part of the palace connected with the White Tower - now demolished?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Question from Katherine - Leisure and entertainment

I'm in 7th form and I'am taking history, currently we are doing research and mine is on leisure and entertainment during the tudor-stuart time period. I was wondering if there were any main points or links that I should know about in order to do well.

Thanks, Katherine.

Question from Joan -Research with primary sources

My question regards how good historical research is done for the Tudor period. I've seen references to "primary research" which I assume means material actually written during the 1500 or 1600's. Does this mean you must have access to the original or is a copy acceptable? I'm guessing many original documents are not readily available to the general public.

Also, when doing primary research does that mean that you sit down with the original (or copy) and read it exactly as written? Have a lot of original materials been "translated" (for lack of a better word) from the old English style to modern English? I know the Tudor spelling was not standardized and they used different terms than we do. Perhaps deciphering illegible handwriting would be a challenge too. Do researchers ever come across a word, term, or reference and have no idea of its meaning?

Weren't some communications of Henry VII, Elizabeth I, Catherine of Aragon etc. written in other languages such as French, Latin, or Spanish? With this being the case,has some prior researcher helpfully translated such documents in to English?-or does the researcher do this themselves (if able) or hire someone else to do so?

In addition to the writings of royalty other people would have written reports or letters. I guess one of the puzzles with everything written would be to put it in context based on any bias or agenda of the writer. Is it difficult to determine the accuracy of some writings because of this?

Sorry this is so long. I actually have more questions about this topic but I've restrained myself.

The process of trying to determine the most factual picture of Tudor times is fascinating to me-a bit like a treasure hunt.

Question from Sylvia - More info on Titles

Hi, I was wondering if I could get more information about the various titles held by nobility. What were the various titles held by dukes, earls, ect. What were their wives called, how were titles inherited/given. What responsibility went with each title, and what is te difference between the Duke of X and the Duke of Y.

Any info appreciated!

Question from Jill - Cloth of Gold and Cloth of Silver

Hello, does anyone know if 'cloth of gold' and 'cloth of silver' were made from actual gold and silver back then? I assume it was.

I'm not a chemist or costume expert but how was it possible to turn ingots of gold or silver into fine thread? I know they can be beaten into fine sheets - but as thread too? It would have to be soft durable and flexible all at the same time.

Also, wouldn't cloth of silver tarnish relatively quickly?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Question from Elizabeth M - Royal burial practices

I am curious about royal burials. Why was Charles I buried in the same vault with Henry VIII and Jane Seymour? This seems to have been a fairly common practice? The tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots was found to have not only her, but her granddaughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia, her niece, Arbella Stuart, her great-grandson, and several infant children of James II and Queen Anne. Likewise, there is also another of Queen Anne's infants buried along with Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, and Charles I. Why would specific graves be re-opened to admit more bodies? Was it to conserve space? And why did it seem to have no reason? Why an infant child of Queen Anne in with Henry VIII, and others scattered in the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots? Why no separate grave for Charles I? I realize he was executed, but why was he not re-buried in his own tomb after the restoration of the monarchy?

Question from Mindy - Katherine Parr's widowhood

Did Katherine Parr have the choice of staying at the King's court after she was widowed? Was it expected of her to withdraw to her own residence? Was she more or less forced to leave by the King's Protector of the Realm so he would have no other influence on the King but his?

From what I understand Katherine Parr was on good terms with all her stepchildren while she was married to King Henry. But I do not know of her standing with Edward after the death of Henry. Thomas Seymor was his favorite uncle, Katherine Parr a beloved stepmother so it stands to reason they continued in favor with Edward, if not the Protector and Parliament.

Question from Mindy - Comparing Eleanor of Aquitaine and Elizabeth I

I have always been interested in the Plantagent time frame as was as Tudor. Eleanor of Aquataine and Henry II are fascinating.
Eleanor was also a woman ahead of her time and I was wondering if anyone has ever done a thesis or letter or book comparing Eleanor to Anne or Elizabeth.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Question from Colleen - Where did Mary serve Princess Elizabeth

Hi everyone,

I've glanced around online but can't seem to find the specific answer to this, and I won't be able to get to the library until this coming weekend. Does anybody know where (as in which house or houses) Mary I was forced to serve as a lady-in-waiting to the infant Elizabeth? Thanks!

Question from John - Mary Grey's burial

Just a quick question about Lady Mary Grey, was she really buried in Wesminter Abbey? and if so has anyone ever checked the vault under Frances Grey's tomb to see if there is two coffin's or just one. I visited Westminster last year and there was no mention of Lady mary Grey being buried there.

Question from Julian - Adoption and inheritance

I am writing a novel set in the 1580s. Could a married but childless man adopt an orphan and leave his estate to the child? What would happen if he subsequently had a son?

Thank you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Question from Ciara - Resources for Edward Kelley

I'm looking for information on Edward Kelley, John Dee's "partner" for a time. I've looked everywhere I can think, and there are a few short biographies that I've found but not much else. What I would really like to know is, what was his first wife's name and did they have children? Did he have children with his second wife Jane Cooper? Other than Jane's daughter from a previous marriage I've not found any other children listed anywhere, nor have I found his first wife's name.

If you guys could give me some rescources I may have not checked that would be great. Thanks so much!

Question from Ciara - Inheritance laws

I'm writing a book which I would like to set in Tudor England, more specifically during Mary's or Elizabeth's reign. One of the key parts of the plot, however, hinges on inheritance laws during that time. If a prosperous merchant were to be widowed and left with a daughter, and then remarried, would the daughter inherit or would the new wife inherit, providing he had no living male relatives? In the event he did not leave a will.

And if he had left a will, indicating the daughter was to inherit, could the wife legally contest this?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Question from Diane - Katherine Howard's "Culpepper letter"

Does anyone else feel that Katherine Howard's "yours as long as life endures" letter to Thomas Culpeper (if it is truly hers) must date from a time before she became Queen? Because why else would she be brave enough to mention Lady Rochford and to sign her own name to it? She could not have been that incredibly foolish as Queen with the memory of Anne Boleyn still fresh at Court. And wouldn't Thomas have destroyed it immediately? I don't know for certain but I don't think that Catherine or Thomas admitted to an affair during her marriage to the King. So Thomas might have kept a letter from her as a keepsake from a time when she was not married.

I'm not convinced the letter is really Katherine's anyway. Perhaps Manox or Dereham "planted" it in an attempt to attack her for leaving them in the dust? Manox had already left a note for the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk telling her of Dereham's visits to the maid's chamber at Horsham (or Lambeth?) And if Dereham considered himself her true husband he must have been angry with her for her betrayals with Culpeper and the King.

How do others feel?

Question from Jenna - Twelve days of Christmas

Can someone explain what goes on during the Twelve Days of Christmas game/event that was/is celebrated in England as far back as the 16th Centruy?

Question from Jenna - Henry VIII, Cromwell and 16th century politics

From all that I have read on Thomas Cromwell, he seems to have been a madman by today's standards; a blood thirsty monster in King Henry's court. It seems that he masterminded everyone's demise until someone caught on and turned it against him. At his beheading it took three chops of the axe. Maybe that was his payback.

So who really was the psychotic demon, Henry VIII or Thomas Cromwell or both? What was wrong with this civilization and it's rulers, movers and shakers? I think that I would have rather lived in the country and stayed to myself than to live in the city and especially in the King's court.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Question from Haley - Anne Gainsford and George Wyatt

I am a playwright, attempting to tell Anne Boleyn's story from the point of view that no one involved was either a horrific monster or a unwitting victim- they were all human beings, with flaws as well as talents, not literary stereotypes.

In any case, I have a question regarding Anne Gainsford. I know that George Wyatt got a lot of information from her. Specifically, I've heard several things about the probability of a'sixth nail'. But I haven't heard much more than that. What was Anne Gainsford opinion of Anne Boleyn? Is there anywhere to steal at glance at George Wyatt's books, other than when he is quoted in other works?

Question from Cora - 16th century children's stories

Hi there

Love love love your site!

I'm on the search for Tudor Children's stories. I'm currently researching for a Renaissance Festival we're having here on the Isle of Wight, and our Fairy Godmother (Story teller) would like to read some traditional 16th Century chilrens stories.

Are there such things available? My search has taken me round the world and back, but I can't find any definitive story titles (stories that can be condensed into 15-20 minute slots would be perfect!)

Question from Chloe - Catherine of Aragon's missal

I have a question about Catherine's of Aragon's missal. It once belonged to Henry VIII's mother Elizabeth of York and has White Roses and other Yorkist emblms on it. Henry gave it a s a gift to Katherine in 1510 in which he had incsribed into it in French, which both he an Katherine spoke fluently "If your rememberance of me be through my affection, then I shall not be forgotten in your daily prayers, for I am yours, Henry R., forever" Katherine wrote underneath this rhyming verse in English "By daily reverance you shall find me to be both loving and kind". There are entries in the calender of several Spanish Saints in normal handwriting(not illuminated) presumably this was written by Katherine.

I've read in a couple of places it is housed in Leeds Castle, Kent I do not however know how old these sources are so my question is. Does anyone know if it is still housed there? if anyone could tell me I'd be very grateful. Thanks!!!

Question from Katie - Sources for info on pregnancy and childbirth

I am a midwife working in England, I am just completing my Masters in midwifery. I start my lecturing qualification in September.In my personal life I am a tudor history enthusiast, particularlay pregnancy & childbirth at this time (royal childbirth a particular gem for me). My hope is to in some way combine my passions; midwifery and history. I would like pointing in the right direction regarding literature that may be of use to me?

Question from Hayley - Pilgrimage of Grace Article 11

Currently studying the Pilgrimage of Grace and have been set a question on Article 11 of the Pontefract. I need to know what exactly Dr legh and Dr leyton did to warrant condign punishment? My source has been modified so bits are missing.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Question from Joan - If you could visit Tudor England...

Hopefully this isn't too silly but I have a bit of a "fantasy" question. If you were able to travel back in time to the Tudor era which people, incidents, or places would you most like to see?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Question from Mindy - Elizabeth I and beheadings

Do you think that Queen Elizabeth's mother's beheading, and her step-mother's beheading had anything to do with her reluctance with beheading Mary of Scotland? or do you think it was Elizabeth did not want to set a precedent of beheading royalty?

There were very few beheadings during her reign. Executions yes,, but few of them were beheaded.

Question from Elizabeth M - Identical twins

How were identical twins viewed in medieval and Tudor times? Was there a fear of the supernatural attached to them?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Question from Jenna - Anne's execution, etc.

In the mini-series, The Tudor's", (I know, not the best source of history) Anne Boleyn is protrayed in her last days, maybe longer, as being very harsh and cruel to her servants and people around her, including other nobles. In the movie, which is based loosely on some history, she barked orders and threatened to have various people's heads cropped, at one time even Lord Chancellor Thomas Crowells. Yet in the book "A Short History of the Tower of London", it states, as if she was a beloved Queen, that her Ladies In Waiting were kneeling and weeping bitterly over her bleeding body not knowing what to do since no coffin had been made available, and that the crowd was horrified at what they had witnessed because everyone was probably expecting a reprieve.

What I would like to know is if King Henry had his marriage to Anne Boleyn annuled right before she was executed then (1) why is she referred to in history books as "Queen Anne" and (2) does anyone know if she ever had anyone executed while she was Queen?

Another thing that was in the book "A Short History of the Tower of London" was that after the King changed her execution from burning to beheading, she requested that a sword be used instead of an axe because she didn't have much faith in the skill of and executioner with so clumsy of a weapon as an axe yet an axe was the preferred weapon for executions in England at the time and many people had died at the hands of an axeman while King Henry was ruler. Wonder if she had ever tried to change that before it was her turn on the scaffold.

Question from Trezza - Jane Grey and her grandfather

Did Lady Jane Grey ever spend time with her grandfather, Charles Brandon? And were her parents as ruthless with their ambitions for her as is often said?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Question from Kayleigh - Henry VIII as narcissistic personality

Hi, i was wondering if anyone would be able to help me with an assignment for my degree.

Basically.. for my Political Psychology module, i need to write a psychobiography about a narcisstic or authoritarian figure (it doesnt have to be in actual politics, but be connected).
It occured to me that perhaps, i could write about Henry VIII as a narcisstic personality? My question is, Is Henry VIII actually viewed as being narcisstic and is there enough information out there about his childhood and early life experiences to produce a psychobiography on him?


Question from Caroline - Info on Henry Norris

Any info on Henry Norris, who was one of the men executed for committing adultery with Anne Boleyn??? Any suggestions for reference material? I've looked and looked to no avail.

[Ed. note - This is a topic I keep meaning to look into as well. I have some Norrises in my family tree in England during that period and I've often wondered if I'm distantly related to him.]

Question from Nicole - Anne Boleyn's gate at Hampton Court

Does anyone know why that gate at Hampton Court is called Annes Gate is there an intresting story behind it??

Question from Michelle - Henry's leg ulcer

I have read that near the end of his life henery suffred from an ulceration of his leg. i would like to know what caused this,which was by all accounts a large,open,stinking sore which later became gangreeneous and he later died due to gangreen or blood posion caused by this sore. Also is there any evidence this could have been caused by diabeaties? Where can I find information on this???

[Ed. note - this was partially covered in the thread below]

Question from Erin - Elizabeth at court after Anne's execution

After Anne Boleyn was executed did Elizabeth remain in Henry's "custody"?
Was she sent away like Mary, or did she remain at court? Or maybe she went back & forth?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Question from Greta - More on Anne's sixth finger

Hello there!
I'm very, very interested in Tudor history for 3 years now and read almost every book on this subject that I could get my hands on. I'm especially interested in anything that revolves around Anne Boleyn. Now there have been many discussions on whether she did have a sixth finger or not and so forth. I know this issue has been dealt with ad nauseam.

But recently I found a quite interesting read:
George Younghusband "A short history of the tower of London". It's also a google book, the link is,M1

Scroll down to p.128, there begins a passage on Anne's beheading, her burial and the discovery of her remains in the 18th and 19th century.

The particular passage I'm asking about I shall quote:
"These [Anne's bones] were examined by experts who came to the conclusion that they were several hundred years old, that they belonged to a woman of from twenty-five to thirty years of age, that she had a very small neck, whilst there was the signs of a sixth finger on one hand". (p.131)

So how trustworthy is this story? Since Younghusband tells us no sources I have some doubts. Yet I found out that he was the Keeper of the Jewel House in the Tower of London after 1917. Or is there any further information on those "experts", who they were, is there anything like an official report or something?

Thank you very much.

[Ed note - This is somewhat related to the previous post and the previous burial thread, but specifically about the sixth finger]

Question from Stephanie - More on Anne Boleyn's burial and grave

First of all, I want to say to Lara this site is amazing and I thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart.

That being said, a topic that has indeed been brought up before still seems unresolved to me, so, please post my question.. which may in fact be a proposal (not just with the typical "this has already been covered.")

I understand that Queen E2 does not want to disturb the bones of Anne Boleyn but she seems to be doing a greater disservice by letting her remains sit, unmarked (I hardly call that little tile on the floor adequate for Anne) while we know that the bones are not even underneath. Surely if its a matter of security (which has been mentioned in previous posts) with today's technology there must be a way to keep them safe. Additionally, just the idea that someone with a "long, thin neck" could be Anne is ridiculous, and is just playing off the "I have but a little neck" famous quote. That could easily be her cousin Katherine Howard's body as she was also decapitated, and buried near Anne.

I suppose my question is: does anyone know if the elm arrow chest still exists? Is there a movement to exhume Anne? If there is not, finally, why can we not all ban together to start a group petition to exhume Anne and use today's DNA testing to give Anne a proper burial? As well as learn more about her, and what she looked like? This worked for the Romanov family (now laid to rest) in Russia. Or are my dreams too niave?? I'm sorry, I cannot let this go. I do not want to travel all the way to England to stand on what "may" be her grave, when in actuality she might be feet away, mixed in some crazy communial grave.

I suppose I'm much like Anne, and will not stop until I feel fulfilled. ;)

Thank you so much, and any support would be greatly appreciated!

[Ed note - Previous related threads below]

Question from Jenna - Ruthlessness of Henry VIII

After watching "The Tudors" I have been wondering if King Henry VIII was as ruthless as I am now feeling that he was or if it was just how life was in the 16th Century. It seems like to me there were an awful lot of heads being cropped and not neccessarily for substanciated reasons. It seems that if they wanted you gone they just made up stories and then tortured you into confessions. So does anyone know how many people were beheaded or killed during his reign? And does anyone know if any of the stories of Anne Boylen were true? Did those men die for no reason other than what seems somewhat like a coup de ta to get rid of Anne?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Report from Alison Weir seminar

I've posted Kathy's report of last week's seminar at the Smithsonian over on the News Blog. Enjoy!

Question from Carlyn - Source of Prince Arthur's name

I just started reading Virtuous Prince. I am not even past 50 pages of honking big type and have found some things that contradict what I thought I already knew.

Starkey attributes the naming of Arthur to the Arthurian legend but Julia Fox clearly states that Arthur was named for a star prominent at his nativity – probably Arcturus. (Source: Anglo, British History, p. 32 and note 2.) She believes that the Arthurian Legend became attached to Arthur much later. Who do you think is right?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Question from Marilyn R. - Henry VII's accent

Bearing in mind that Henry Tudor spent many years in exile in Brittany, is it known whether or not he spoke English with a French accent?

Question from Elizabeth - Lady Bridget Wingfield

I have read in The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn that Lady Bridget Wingfield was a close friend of Anne's. Does anyone have any information on her? I have not been able to find much and would very much appreciate it!

Question from Elizabeth - Henry VIII mentioning Anne Boleyn after her death

Did Henry ever mention Anne Boleyn after her death? I know Elizabeth attended court periodically, and was said to resemble Anne quite a bit. Did Henry ever say anything to her about her mother?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Question from Mike - Elizabeth's views on slavery

What was Elizabeth's views on "Slavery"? I ask this question because I read that the trade existed during her reign and that the realm profit from the trade.

Thank you,


Question from Jaddasroots - Superstitions, etc. relating to crime and punishment

I'm doing a research project on Crime and Travel.

I've found several articles on Crimes and their punishments, all of which I've deemed really violent...
Such as burning a Criminals thumb with a hot iron, so if they are caught again they may be shown no mercy.

I am guessing that the punishments were made to scare people into staying out of crime but people still comitted them.

Was there any superstitions involved with the punishments? And who would write the crimes?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Question from Joan - Time outdoors for female nobility

Did female nobility of the Tudor period spend much time outdoors? If they were outside did the employ parasols? In their portraits their skin is very fair-certainly no hint of a tan. I'm guessing pale skin was considered a desirable beauty trait.

Would vitamin D deficiency have been a common problem for these women? Even if they were spending some time outside very little skin was exposed-just hands and face and even that might have been limited by the use of gloves or hats.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Question from Erin - Book recommendations w/ family trees

All the women of the Tudor time period (Mary of Scots, Mary Tudor, Mary this, Mary that) do you think you could write out a list of books where there are excellent family trees? Or maybe even websites….anything I can get my hands on to understand more about the people of the time period will significantly help.

[Ed note - apologies to Erin for cobbling together a post from various emails... I'm lazy tonight!]

Question from TudorRose - Elizabeth v. Mary

Did you know and have you heard that Queen Elizabeth I thought with her head but her distant cousin Mary thought with her heart? which do you who accesses this site think you are?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Question from Roland - Opinions on modern Tower Green memorial

Has anyone visited the Tower of London recently and seen the new Tower Green memorial, or has at least seen pictures of it? Basically it's a glass and metal modern looking sculpture (looks like a dinner table!) commemorating the victims.

Here is a link to what it looks like:

Other than the fact that the location of the site is not historically accurate (the Tudor scaffolds were built alongside the White Tower - at least for Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Howard, and Jane Grey - according to contemporary sources) what do you think about the new monument? Do you like it, hate it??

Personally (and this is only my opinion) I don't like it. I think as a 'modern piece of art' it just looks weird against the Tower's medieval to Victorian buildings. If thye had to build something, I would have liked if they made a replica scaffold on the present site. Tourists can climb up the stairs and stand upon it, and get the feel of what it was like for the victims who died there. It will give you a good view of the Tower grounds too.

Any other opinions?